Keeping everything locked inside, hidden from view is a bad idea, I’ve known that since I was a kid. When I was bullied, I’d swallow all the rage inside me, shut myself in my room, and just sit there. The rage had nowhere to go. I hated those kids, but I didn’t do anything about it. I stored all that anger inside me until it began to turn on me. This is your fault. They’re right. You are dumb. You are fat.
That penchant for silence and bottling things up has cropped up in my work life as well. The tasks keep piling up, but everyone assumes I’m doing fine because I sit at my desk every day and I smile and say hi to people who walk past. In fact, I’ve probably woken up that morning with extreme dread in my chest. I don’t want to be at work. I don’t think I can do it. I’m not cut out for this.
One morning, when I worked as a social media editor at BuzzFeed, I reached a new limit. My levels of stress and exhaustion hit the summit. Instead of asking for help, calling in sick, seeing the doctor, or even picking myself up and getting through the day, my mind and my body said, enough! They were finally working together, but not to my benefit.
I woke up and it was obvious: I wasn’t going to go to work. I couldn’t. I couldn’t see the point. In fact, I couldn’t see the point in blinking, breathing, or thinking. Nothing worked. I lay on top of my duvet and tried to will dying on myself. I wished for a secret power where I could shut my eyes and end it all. In my head, time was passing in slow motion, but in the real world, things were ticking along as usual. My managers at work were extremely worried. They called the police to show up at my house. My family was called. My ex-boyfriends. While I lay in bed trying to hold my breath, I caused complete and utter chaos around me. Around 3 p.m. that day, I took a deep breath and pushed my upper body upright to check my phone. By then it was too late. I couldn’t go into work. I had well and truly fucked up.
As you might imagine, the aftermath wasn’t good. Instead of using this opportunity to be honest, I opted for the usual: silence and sugarcoating. I blamed food poisoning and extreme tiredness. No one believed me. I told lie on top of lie and caused far more damage than I had to begin with.
Later, things escalated and became much worse. I’d been suicidal for a month. I couldn’t speak without crying. My skin was red and blotchy. My hands were shaking. When I finally approached my managers, I’d made a list of things to say to them, but I couldn’t read the letters through tears. They told me I could go on an early lunch break, which I took eagerly. I walked around Soho hoping to find something that would tell me what to do. I lit a cigarette and pressed it against my skin, but stopped before it made contact. I couldn’t do this again. My scars had just healed. I’d only just stopped wearing my bandages. The cigarette hung suspended in mid-air. I couldn’t stop thinking about harming myself. Every item on the street looked like a tool I could use: a piece of glass, a window I could smash, a bus I could jump in front of.